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Why Greenpeace is Launching a Red War against Traditional Web Hosting

Greenpeace is Launching a War against Web Hosting

Greenpeace, known for its advocacy in protecting earth’s natural resources, has won major environmental victories against coal plants, Clorox, Kimberly-Clark, McDonalds, and dozens of other corporations. Now it is hoping to do the same with the IT industry, triggering a greater focus on green web hosting in the midst of a cloud computing revolution.

What’s Brown about Cloud Computing and Web Hosting?

On the heels of the iPad launch, Greenpeace issued its “Make IT Green” report, calling for the IT and hosting industry to recognize the difference between “brown” and “green” clouds. Greenpeace is concerned that the growth of cloud computing will cultivate “massive” data centers that will demand “incredible amounts of energy.” The organization estimates that by the year 2020, hosting centers will consume nearly 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity – which would be more than what the countries of Canada, Brazil, France, and Germany utilize currently combined.

Greenpeace’s major concern is that many data centers utilize traditional energy sources, which burn coal to generate electricity. Coal is a major contributor to carbon emissions, which have been the main culprits for global warming. Subsequently, the more cloud computing becomes prevalent, the more data centers will have to be built to accommodate for the load, and the more pollution will be generated from powering the data and web hosting centers.

In the report, Greenpeace has called out companies including Facebook, who was cited in the report as utilizing a data center in Oregon mostly supplied by coal-fired energy, to take more green hosting efforts. Greenpeace also evaluated Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo, comparing all of their energy usage at their data centers and making public the percentage of “dirty energy” vs. “renewable energy” utilized at each center.

Not Keeping the Peace

Of course, the Greenpeace report has triggered a fair share of criticism, especially since it has targeted major IT industry players including Google and Microsoft. Greenpeace criticised Microsoft for its Chicago data center, which utilizes a majority of its energy generated from coal. In response, Microsoft stated that “…cloud-based services can help people reduce their impact on their environment” and cited several examples of how other Microsoft data centers utilize sustainable practices.

Critics of the Greenpeace report argue that cloud computing can actually help the environment. People can shop from home, conduct research online, manage and share photos using the internet, and even socialize with others from their computer – which all decreases the need to drive and pollute the earth through car emissions.

What Can You Do to Be Green?

Through the report, Greenpeace is urging web hosts and data centers to utilize green, sustainable sources of energy. While Greenpeace is urging corporations like Microsoft and Facebook to go green with their data and web hosting, many individual webmasters and small businesses have already taken the initiative to utilize sustainable energy in their web hosting. Going green with your web hosting is easy, with companies like FatCow, GreenGeeks, SuperGreen Hostingand ThinkHost all providing webmasters with an easy (and affordable) way to host their websites using sustainable energy, such as wind and solar energy.

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